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Cruises to Moscow

Moscow (Photo:Baturina Yuliya/Shutterstock)

About Moscow

Once a popular setting for spy movies and Cold War propaganda films, Moscow has emerged as a major tourist destination, helped in part by the easier access provided by river cruising. And justifiably so: For Americans brought up during the pre-perestroika era, strolling through Red Square and exploring the city without the minders that used to be required can be an emotional and exhilarating experience.

If St. Petersburg is the soul of Russia, Moscow is its heart, an international marketplace where business gets done and young people come to work (and play). Capitalism has caught on in a big way, and conspicuous consumption is everywhere, judging by the Ferraris, Maybachs and Porsches seen on the street. Prices are sky high at trendy cafes -- sushi is the current Muscovite cuisine of choice -- and nightclubs. That being said, you can still find bargain eats along the Old Arbat (a pedestrian walkway catering to tourists) and at the chain restaurants that Russians themselves use.

Although Moscow has a well-earned reputation for traffic, it's a greener city than you'd think, with a ring of parks running next to major streets and many others (including the famed Gorky) within the city center. This green belt provides a fascinating opportunity to observe Russians in their daily life; you'll see kids scrambling on playgrounds, young adults reading their iPads and old men competing in chess tournaments.

The Cyrillic alphabet can make getting around a little challenging -- very few signs are in English. But the Moscow Metro, notable for its grand interiors and stunning artwork, offers more than 180 stops and goes everywhere you need to be. (It's also loads cleaner than U.S. counterparts.) Your cruise line or concierge should have maps that have stops in both English and Cyrillic letters.

If you're here on a river cruise, you'll have at least two full days to explore the city -- and you'll need it. Consider coming a day or two early to take it all in. Besides the famed onion domes of St. Basil's Cathedral, the Kremlin alone contains nine churches and several museums, including the Diamond Fund with its must-see royal jewels. Cultural performances, including those at the world-renowned Bolshoi Theater, take place almost every night. Dive in and be prepared to have your stereotypes shattered.

  • More about Moscow

  • Why go to Moscow?

  • Good to Know?

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More about Moscow

Why go to Moscow?

Pros:

There's lot to do in Moscow from touring historic buildings and sights to catching an opera or ballet

Cons:

Russia does not cater to English speakers -- interpreting signs and communicating in general can be a challenge

Bottom Line:

Post-Cold War, Moscow is undoubtedly exotic for Americans, and certainly offers an exhilarating experience

Good to Know?

As in any major city, Moscow has its share of pickpockets who are drawn to foreign tour groups. Stay aware of your surroundings and invest in a purse or bag that can either be hidden or worn cross-body.

Many churches and museums in Russia charge a separate fee, usually 50 to 100 rubles, to take photos -- or the sites ban them altogether. Make sure you check before you snap.

Getting Around?

It's about a 30-minute ride on the Metro from the Rechnoy Vokzal station, located at the end of the system's Green Line, to Revolution Square. Tickets are 30 rubles each way and allow transfers. Using the system is much like that in any other city, although you'll want to ask your cruise director or hotel concierge to point out the Cyrillic name of the station (and if you take a taxi, make sure you bring a card with you that has the name of the terminal written out in Russian).

Once you're in the city, you can either use the Metro to get to other attractions or walk; most tourist attractions are within 20 to 30 minutes of Red Square. Taxis are available, but it will help to know the name of your destination in Russian and have it written in Cyrillic.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

Local currency is the ruble. Check xe.com and oanda.com for current exchange rates. For better prices, get your rubles at an ATM in the airport or in the city. Otherwise, use a credit card. Just make sure to call your bank and let them know you're traveling in advance; Russia is well known for scams, and transactions there will be noted.

Language?

Russian is the major language, although in Moscow, some of the vendors and restaurant workers speak a little English, and most signs are in the Cyrillic alphabet.


Moscow Cruise Reviews
Excellent insight to the famous sights of Moscow.Read More
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Often Travelling
Lots of geriatric choicesRead More
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Janronm
Treasures of the Armory were wonderful. Big crowds, but manageable. Read More
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Marystrips
Great overview of the city in the comfort of the bus, with a great guide.Read More
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mombin

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